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UMW Libraries
Simpson Library | Special Collections

Research Skills for First-Year Seminars (FSEMs)

What Is a Database?

A database is an organized, searchable collection of online information.  Library databases  can contain anything from articles, e-books, videos, newspapers, book reviews, and reference materials.  The library databases are free to current UMW students and faculty.

Off-campus Access:

If you use the databases from off-campus or in the dormitories, you will be asked to sign-in. Use your UMW NetID and password to pass this required screen. If you have any trouble getting access, please contact us.

Sign on screen

What Database Should I Use?

In the First-Year Seminar (FSEM) classes, we focus a lot on using Quest.  It's like Google for the library.  Use Quest to search the library's physical collection and the contents of most of the library's electronic databases.

You can also search individual databases one-at-a-time, which helps you focus on particular subjects. (For example, if you're trying to find articles about a business topic, you could use our Business databases.)

Important Quest Facts:

  • It's a good idea to sign-in to Quest before you search.  Signing in does three important things:
    • Provides more detailed search results
    • Allows you to request books
    • Allows you to save items to a Favorites list
  • Some databases are unavailable in Quest:

Additionally, some of our popular news databases such as ProQuest Historical Newspapers and Nexis Uni are not indexed in Quest.